Without a doubt, CrossFit has taken the world by storm. Providing “Elite Fitness” while delivering a good number of benefits, including strength, balance and stamina, CrossFit has become one of the most popular training systems the training world has ever seen. Entire gyms have opened, dedicated entirely to its use. Without a doubt, CrossFit has had the biggest impact on fitness in the past decade, and will probably continue to dominate the landscape for years to come.
There is plenty of information out there regarding CrossFit style training. Trainers all have their own personal formulas for success, and the internet is packed with workouts galore, which you can complete at a training center or without equipment at home. Training articles are everywhere. However, training is just one part of the CrossFit process. Another piece – and perhaps equally important – is the RECOVERY aspect of training. Being a hugely demanding training system, CrossFit will takes its toll on trainers. Those who don’t recover adequately from training will grow sore, incur serious injuries, and face illness (colds & flu) as a result of their bodies simply not being able to repair, rebuild and regrow following tough workouts. But this doesn’t have to be the case for you!
The process of recovery itself involves four basic tents. First, you have to focus on your nutrition, which should go without saying. Drink water to hydrate, consume healthy carbs to rebuild your energy stores, and protein to give your torn muscle fibers the amino acids they need for rebuilding. And of course, you should be taking multi-vitamins and C, E and B for energy and recovery.
Next you will want to ‘clean house’ following a workout, which means the important act of clearing out the metabolites your body has produced as a by-product of training. Light exercise, ice baths, and compression garments help with this. Move on to tissue repair with massage, mobility exercise and stretching, and most commonly, foam rolling, help with muscle recovery. Finally, you’ll want to focus on the most obvious factory of recovery: Rest! Sleep 7.5 to 8.5 hours each night. Use napping and meditation to supplement your sleep and relaxation time. Just as you record your training and nutrition in a journal, you’ll want to keep track of your nightly sleep patterns for analysis and adjustment.
Just as your training resources vary, your recovery resources will ebb and flow over time. There are going to be times when you cannot dedicate the time and energy needed to recover adequately from a maximum intensity training session. That’s okay! When you are able to foresee times like this (due to changes in schedule), it can be wise to scale back the intensity or length of your training for a day or three. You’re still training – but your WOD is a tad shorter, meaning your body is therefore capable of full recovery, despite the diminished recovery resources at your disposal. Pre-empt the overtraining by training a bit less – for a very limited time only!
Most CrossFitters have no problem training with maximum intensity all of the time. However, some will just take their recovery for granted. This is not a mistake you should make! Treat the recovery process with the same focus and intensity you employ for your training, and you’ll see much greater gains in terms of strength, stamina, balance and performance as a result of your training. Good luck!